One of the main conflicts that currently exists within Steeler Nation is the seeming disparity between the level of talent on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 53-man roster and the inability for that talent to be fully realized on the field.
After all, this was not a bought and paid for super team. The vast majority of the players, and the starters, on this roster were either drafted by or developed by the Steelers as undrafted free agents. One would think it’s not out of the realm of reasonable expectations that they should come together as a cohesive unit.
Sure, some parts have, particularly the offensive line, consisting of a group of starters who have been together for three or four years now, and having consistently been coached during that timespan by Mike Munchak.
Which is why it’s no surprise that three of Munchak’s men are in Orlando right now for the Pro Bowl. And one of them was just given the distinction of the top offensive lineman in the NFL for the 2017 season by Pro Football Focus.
Dubbed the Bruce Matthews Award, it was given this time around to Steelers right guard David DeCastro, who made the Pro Bow this year for the third consecutive season. He has also been named All-Pro for three straight years, twice on the first team, including for the 2017 season.
Sam Monson writes for the site, “last season was DeCastro’s real breakout year where he took his game to another level, but in 2017 he had another career season. He pushed the bar even higher”, noting that he was their top-ranked guard in the league.
He noted that DeCastro excelled both in the run game and in pass protection, arguing that he failed to allow a sack during the year. He incorrectly notes that the lineman didn’t miss a snap this season, which is not true—he was inactive for the regular season finale for rest.
Monson writes that he only surrendered 15 total pressures in pass protection for the entire season, notching the third-best pass-blocking efficiency rating among guards, including five games in which he did not surrender a single pressure.
But it was in his run-blocking that he shined, the author writing that he “was dominant on the ground, showcasing some outstanding power in the Steelers’ rushing attack. Whether it was driving players off the line at the point of attack or executing blocks on the move when pulling on power runs, DeCastro was consistently crushing defenders”.
Monson even notes that he had the highest positive run-blocking percentage in their database for this season, and described him as “a stud in all facets of the game”.
DeCastro has truly come into his own over the course of the past three seasons, more than living up to his draft pedigree and earning the contract that he was given prior to the 2016 season. While he may not be the de facto ‘leader’ of the linemen, he is now a vocal presence as well as a consistent force on the field.